Is a Kaikaku in Your Future?

Kaikaku is the latest continuous improvement initiative being practiced in the business world. Kaikaku means “radical change” in the Japanese language. The goal is to tear down walls both literally and figuratively. Kaikaku events are generally used when kaizen events no longer provide the necessary results to keep an organization competitive.

In these events the business is literally dismantled and rebuilt from scratch. Most organizations have evolved around space and technologies of decades ago. The old layouts normally have little semblance to any type linkage and flow.

Linkage and flow is term used to describe the efficient and logical flow of material and information throughout an organization. Lean tools are used to make the process robust and repeatable. Standard work, visual controls and real-time problem solving are some of the tools available for this activity. Many of the lean tools are derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), which began development in 1948 and continues today.

The Kaikaku event is to bring organization layout and processes up to date and spark new ideals for methods and operations. This is a capital-intensive process. Most internal walls are removed to provide present visibility and future flexibility. Every piece of machinery is moved to a place that will create proper linkage and flow throughout the facility. When done properly a genchi gembutsu (go see) walk should reveal a visual flow line. In other words anyone observing the operation should clearly see the product flow.

There is a debate about how much prior planning you should do before the event. Some practitioners believe in the “blitz method” in other words no planning prior to the event. In this scenario all planning is none during the week of the Kaikaku event.

Others subscribe a more careful and deliberate planning prior to the event, count me in this camp. A week of “Chaos” even planned “Chaos” offers too many opportunities for negative outcomes. Unlike kaizen events which are localized, Kaikaku is huge encompassing the entire organization.

Consider yourself lucky if you’re part of an organization that will invest this much in continuous improvement. It means they’re seriously committed to competing in the very competitive global marketplace. That supports Edwards Deming’s practice of long-term planning. Expect a Kaikaku hangover after the event. It will take time to adjust to the substantial amount of change performed in such a short period. There will be additional tweaking needed after event, but that is to be expected.